(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -- You might think the best way to stop overspending is to get rid of your credit cards. But that's not necessarily a good idea.
According to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, that's a decision people might not realize can do more harm than good. That's because canceling a card you've had for a long time shortens the average age of your credit history. Under many scoring models, that means a lower credit score.
Only 42% of credit card holders surveyed knew about the negative impacts, while 15% didn't think there was any effect at all.
Older generations are more likely than younger consumers to have closed accounts.
So, how many consumers have canceled at least one credit card?
Baby boomers - 72%
Generation X - 61%
Millennials - 50%
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There are several reasons people might cancel a credit card. Perhaps they paid off the debt, or maybe they do not use the card enough. High interest rates or annual fees also are common reasons for closing an account.
While it might sound counterintuitive, experts say instead of helping your credit score, canceling actually hurts your number.
They recommend that you keep old accounts open, even if you don't use them, because of the positive impact on your credit score.